Black Hat SEO Vs White Hat SEO : Understand The Difference

Black Hat SEO Vs White Hat SEO
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When ever it comes to writing a guide on Search engine optimisation, I have to be careful with my words, as some time few readers misunderstand the context, and end up using the White Hat SEO techniques to an extent, that it becomes Black Hat SEO. As the colour implies, black stands for something evil here, and white stands for fair and right way to do it.

If you are someone who have a decent experience of running a blog or a website, you might be versed with the meaning of White Hat and Black Hat SEO, but many newbies find it hard to differentiate between these two type of SEO. Specially, when they read stuff like “Backlinks will improve your website ranking” and when they see on sites like Fiverr or Black Hat SEO forum about “thousands of link in less than $10”, they instantly hit checkout button and feel like rewarded. Only later they realize that such links are coming from spam or automated website, and doing more harm than any good. One of our Shouter have already shared his case-study on the same which you can read here.

Black hat SEO
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Google might penalise them, but I don’t see these as completely their mistake, because they were misinformed. If you are one of those newbies, always remember; like “There is no shortcut to get rich” similarly “There is no shortcut to get good ranking”. Getting your site ranking higher is a gradual process, and you need to work on many aspects. We will discuss about various ranking factors some other day, for now it’s time to learn and understand the differences between Black Hat SEO Vs. White Hat SEO. This will not only save you from making mistakes like other newbies, you will also learn what are the good SEO practices that you should be following for your blog.

Black hat SEO techniques are the one which are not favored or preferred and are considered faulty and improper methods of SEO implications.  Whereas White Hat SEO techniques are just opposite of Black Hat SEO techniques and are always welcome in the SEO world.

What is basic difference between Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO techniques?

There is always a good way or bad way of doing or implementing any technique, same is with SEO techniques also.  There are certain criteria, parameters and recommended trends which are followed internationally by SEO professionals and which are also adopted by all major search engines.  The set of techniques which follow all these guidelines set by search engines are said to be White Hat SEO techniques.

The problem comes when people starts misusing the White hat techniques in a way that it tends to spamming and over the time become black hat SEO or unaccepted search engine ranking technique. One of such misused white hat SEO technique now is back link building, and one of the form of blogging which is most affected due to back link building spamming is “Guest posting” and in the past “Article directory submission”.

In a way, Black hat technique is always used by SEO people to rank anything higher in short-term and one biggest disadvantage of black hat methods are, they don’t last for long. More over, website using black-hat techniques are usually blacklisted by major search engines. Now, lets look at some of the common Black Hat SEO methods being used today .

Black Hat SEO techniques

There are many techniques which can be called as Black Hat SEO technique, which is not supported and should not be accepted by a responsible SEO professional.  I am listing few of shortcuts or faulty measures which are considered as bad way of applying SEO techniques.

  • Cloaking – Some individuals create two different versions of page for search engines and visitors.  When search engine spider/bots crawl through the page, it is satisfied with the processes used in preparing it; however, visitors get something entirely different on display.  This process is called cloaking. Here is a video which explains what Cloaking is:
  • Meta tag stuffing – Any SEO professional must keep in mind while writing Meta tag keywords that it bears resemblance with the contents provided in the said webpage.  Too much use of any particular keyword in Meta tags can also be treated as Meta tag stuffing.
  • Keyword stuffing –There is always confusion over this debate, what percentage of keyword density is appropriate according to good SEO technique.  There is no such fixed parameter for confirming this; however, 2-3% keyword density is preferred by most SEO professionals.  Using more than that, just to create an illusion for search engine bots is considered a wrong technique and commonly known as keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing
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  • Doorway or Gateway pages – These are low quality web pages, which are not provided with enough contents, but are done with spontaneous keyword stuffing.  This process of implementing poor quality page is termed as Doorway or Gateway pages.
  • Mirror websites – In this process a person host multiple websites, but theoretically provide similar types of contents in each of them.
  • Page Hijacking – Page hijacking is a technique, where someone creates a dummy and bogus content which is served to crawler like the original one, but guides website users to some nasty or fraud websites.

These are some of the infamous techniques which we should avoid while working on SEO aspect of any website.

Also see: 10 Black Hat SEO Techniques that may be hurting your blog

White Hat SEO techniques

Like there are techniques which need to be avoided, there are also certain methods which are highly recommended to follow to make your website search engine friendly.  These techniques are called White Hat SEO techniques and are helpful for the SEO professionals to keep away from wrong methods of working.

  • Non-Deception – First and foremost aspect of White Hat SEO technique is avoiding deception, what so ever it may be.  You must provide original copies of your website to both bots/crawlers and visitors.
  • Follow search engine guidelines – SEO techniques, without any doubt are done for improving search engine performances of websites, which makes sure that website achieves its objective.  But in achieving this target abide by the guidelines of the search engine, violating which may be very expensive at times. You can browse official Google webmaster guidelines over here.
  • Serve visitors – White Hat SEO technique clearly says that contents or images used in websites must be created for visitors and it should not be manipulated in any way to satisfy search engine needs or results.  You must follow this simple and golden rule to stay on the positive side.
  • Good quality content – Contents are the main aspect of SEO techniques, which leaves negligible space for poor quality content.  Any SEO professional must use good quality content for search engines and visitors, which are informative and helpful for both. Check out attributes of high quality content.
  • Good quality web pages – Use good quality web pages.  Group of good quality web pages ensure that performance of website remains in a good condition, irrespective of the small changes in the algorithm of search engine processes.

I’m not really focusing on White Hat SEO here, as I have talked about it a lot of time in earlier posts. If you want to dig down more in recommended SEO techniques, here are few articles that you should read:

Following these simple White Hat SEO techniques and avoiding all the Black Hat techniques will keep health of your website in a very steady progressive state. More over when you hire a SEO company or a SEO freelancer to work on optimisation of your site, you should definitely ask the stuff like:

  • What link building techniques you are going to use?
  • What are the changes you will be making on the site?
  • What methods you are using to rank me for this keyword?

If you have any follow-up questions regarding Black Hat Vs. White hat SEO, feel free to ask me via comments. If you find this article informative, do share it on Google plus and Facebook with #SEO.

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Black Hat SEO Vs White Hat SEO
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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

32 thoughts on “Black Hat SEO Vs White Hat SEO : Understand The Difference”

  1. Hi Harsh

    My question – is i have to use meta tags i stop using meta tags more than 1 year ago as recommended by the Yost SEO plugin – is meta tags are important ? ( Is you use meta tags on shoutmeloud ?)

  2. Anubhav Gupta

    Hey @Harsh
    Excellent work you done for us. For an newbie there always keep confusing regarding SEO tactics. You clearly mentioned major difference among black hat and white hat.
    You cannot wear both hats at a single time.
    Can you tell me After searching of long tail keywords where to place them.
    i’ll waiting for response.

    @Anubhav Gupta

    1. Hello Anubhav,

      we cannot wear both hats at a single time but our competitors can make bad backlinks that’s sometime your website goes down so you should mind about that and be aware from your competitors and keep analysis of your website backlinks.

      furthermore you asked for long tail keywords, so for your kind information logntaile keywords does not have lots of searches and competition so you do not need to place many time it is just enough to place at title tag, description tag and once in article.


    2. Harsh Agrawal

      Thanks for your comment and regarding your question:

      Placement would be same as normal Keyword placement. You can read about it here:
      Since you are using long tail keyword, keyword density would be less here and I would skip adding long tail Keyword in heading tag. Just use it about <1% in the post.

      Also this will be handy for you:

  3. Abhishek Tavasalkar

    Hello Harsh,

    Before I leave any comment, I’d like to know one things which this article confused me about. You said that 5-10% density of target keyword is much preferred.

    Now the WordPress SEO plugin I use show keyword density above 4.5% is an overkill and many other (reputed) SEO professionals say that using only 1-2% of target keyword is very well enough. And even suggest to use some LSI keywords.

    I usually keep 1-2% target keyword density and sprinkle some LSI keywords for my tech blog. I hope you got my confusion. Now I want to ask, what should I do? What should be the exact keyword density?

    Your Reply extremely appreciated.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Thanks for pointing it out, and 1-2% keyword density with LSI keyword is the best. I have updated the article to reflect the changes!

  4. Ngan Tengyuen

    I believe the only way to game Google is to manipulate the ‘fake user’ by searching for a specific keyword and repeatedly visit your own site to bump up the keyword.

    Quote:” But importantly with regards to rating the quality of a page, Google also analyzes ‘user signals’. In other words it compares how searchers have interacted with a page when it has appeared in search results to assess how well it may have satisfied their needs. These user signals include Click-Through Rate (the proportion of searchers who have clicked on a page when it has appeared in search results), SERP Return Rate (the proportion of searchers going back to the search engine results page after having clicked on a link – which suggests they did not find what they were searching for) and Time on Site (if searchers stay longer it indicates the page is what they were looking for).”

  5. Well, I have a question about cloaking,
    if on my homepage, I fetch the charset of the visitor and serve french content to french users and english content to english users (by default english so most search engines see english), is it white cloaking or black cloaking?! I guess there is a level in cloaking because I’ve seen so many big companies including Google itself that serve content of at least their homepage using exactly the same method…

  6. Nilantha Jayawardhana

    Thanks.. Very very useful post.

    I think that fiverr is the most dangerous place to newbies. Backlinks will increase rank and traffic. But, purchasing fiverr gigs to create backlinks is the worst thing for a blog or website.

    White Hat SEO is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their Web site.

    How do the real SEO experts do it right?

    In depth keyword research,
    Proper keywords in page titles,
    Keywords in header,
    Proper meta tag,
    Quality inbound links,

    Thanks Harsh for this great post.

  7. Naveen rajput

    Hello harsh Aggarwal
    You above explained good and reasonable difference between Black Hat Seo and White Hat Seo.When i started blogging i was also using meta Stuffing because on that time i don’t know what is black hat and white hat seo .But after some time i get to know about these techniques and today i completely agreed with your suggestions .
    But I have a question regarding to SEO that how many times should we use focus keyword in meta description .If someone is using it 4 times ,Is it known as black hat Seo or not ?

    1. ganesh yadav

      I have also this query. still i don’t know that how many focus keyword we can use in meta description?

    2. Harsh Agrawal

      From my experience using it one time along with a supporting Keyword is good enough. Think of your meta description as sales copy and in 158 character you need to put your target keyword. There is no need of using it 3-4 times, as it’s like overdoing it.

  8. Great Article Harsh.

    Nowadays you come across a lot of companies that are building a single page website and beautify/simplify it majorly with images as opposed to content; in this case how do you achieve better SEO?

    I am presuming your answer for such business would be to operate a healthy blog, but I would like to know if there’s more to it.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      I’m unsure you talking about micro sites (Landing page) or one page website (Parallax). So let me give answer for both of them:

      I believe you are talking about Micro site or those one page site (Landing pages), where they usually use it for running a campaign. Mostly they drive traffic through social-media, referral and other method, but not SEO.

      In case if you are talking about proper one page website (Parallax design), it’s again easy to achieve good ranking, as all the links will be pointing to one URL. The idea is to create an authority and they divide section of pages with Div tags. They also use anchor text to link to different section of same page, which helps search engine to understand about the content of the site.

      Having a blog is bonus, but not every website works on content marketing to drive traffic/sales.

  9. sandeep singh

    I also noticed such services of fiverr but never tried, earlier people were using such technique to get higher rank on google, it’s result was higher ranking of low quality content and website, that’s why google needed to launch Panda update which cracks down such website lowered their rank and provided higher ranking for quality content website.
    So never try Black Hat technique, if you want your new page(good quality) to rank in google within few days you can try Fetch as google tool available in google webmaster.

  10. Deepak Singh

    Hey Harsh,
    Informative post. I do believe it’s important to remind people to avoid so called black hat seo techniques. Unless its natural, all link building is Blackhat!

  11. Hi Harsh,

    I want to ask you a question I have observed in many websites where they used to put a line after the article like “Incoming Search Terms” and then include many similar keywords related to the article.

    Can you please through some light on this technique?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Harsh Agrawal


      This technique used to work a lot before Panda algorithm, but after that this technique is dying. Adding incoming search terms is automated task, and is seen as keyword stuffing by Google. It’s not a good practice anymore.

      You might see an increase in traffic for a while, but eventually your site will be penalised for such practice.

  12. Nice read, maybe you can also write a new article about “grey hat” techniques, combining the two together. There is also quite allot more to black hat than these examples but it is a great start.

    Remember according to Google majority of link building is against the terms, so in their eyes, most white hats and also black hats.

    Ngan – Please don’t waste your time doing that 🙂 It won’t work…

  13. Saurav Khare

    Yaa! But once you get the way to SEO your site, you will automatically do some extra!! & hence it goes block hat SEO. So set your limits first.

  14. Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Harsh,

    Power points here. I think of Black Hat SEO as using force and White Hat SEO as using power. Once concept is build on being dishonest and the other on being honest.

    Black Hat is fear-based marketing. You use tricks, tactics and schemes because you fear losing traffic. This leads to a negative outcome in the long run because negative acts produce negative results at some time.

    White Hat SEO is smart, intelligent, focused and honest. You’re creating massive, targeted value for your readers, and doing so in a genuine manner. Your authenticity is rewarded. Eventually, you’ll be able to drive traffic through search engines easily because you did things from a place of power, and Google rewards you for being honest and playing by their rules.

    Don’t give in to the temptation to take short cuts; you will be burned horribly in the long run. Create value, become valuable. Use power, not force, to White Hat your way to a successful SEO campaign.

    Just give value, be honest and if your intuition tells you it’s wrong, you probably shouldn’t be using this tactic, as it’s most surely Black Hat and doomed to backfire on you.

    Thanks Harsh. I’ll be tweeting this to help my audience.


  15. Ajay Udayagiri

    Hi Harsh,

    You have mentioned the difference between black hat and white hat very well. In my case I always say one thing,
    The Black Hat SEO may drive good traffic for you site, but it might be only for few days. Coming to the White Hat SEO, it drives natural traffic forever until or unless Google releases an algo change.

  16. is there any problem if i purchase any service from the fiverr. some of the backlink creator says that their work is safe from google panda, penguin and hummingbird ? are they lying ?
    and many users also give the good review on their services. they are also fake or real ?

  17. Dinesh Tavasalkar

    Hello Harsh.
    Thank you for this amazing post. As a new blogger I always had doubts related to black vs white SEO. You have clearly mentioned some some points related to Blacks hat SEO, how to avoid them and White hat seo one should follow. Many of the doubts that I had for month are cleared just in a matter of 10 minutes, thanks again for this detailed post.

  18. hi

    First time on your site. I came in to read this post and ended up spending time on a recommened post on seo at the bottom of article.

    You explained the points well, Many new bloggers also find spinned content as a easy way out but it’s actually a self defeating idea. Don’t know whether it would be right to label it as blackhat.

    Agree completely with you, there are no shortcuts.

  19. Site owners should definitely keep these points in mind when hiring an SEO freelancer/company. Any claim of improving rankings instantly (e.g. a week or a month) is easily a red flag to watch out for. Demand that they walk you through their techniques, then watch out for Black Hat techniques – any form of abuse, deception, or other actions that
    hurt the search experience of users.

  20. This is a really nice and helpful post thanks for the create content. Black hat SEO is harmful for website. Black hat SEO is trying to cheat search engines. So all blogger should avoid black hat SEO. White hat SEO search engine friendly. I like white hat SEO.

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